Crunch (Mechanics)

A slang term, crunch refers to number crunching. The links below are all for the mechanical side of the game, and they include character builds, rule explanations, and item recommendations based on how advantageous you'll find them from a statistical standpoint.

I've been putting out a lot of content for my Sundara: Dawn of a New Age setting for the past 3 years or so, and this is the first real bundle we've had for it! So if you've wanted to check it out, but didn't know where to begin, this deal gives you everything you could want, and then some, all at 50% off the normal price.

If you're used to playing DND 5E, then you're probably used to having relatively few choices when it comes to truly customizing your character. However, "Army Men" builds on the system, and replaces traditional feats with the Exploits System... this week's update is all about explaining how this system works, and giving players and GMs alike a peek into how it functions.

Too often Game Masters end up treating combat encounters the way we do in video game RPGs; everything that happens in combat takes place in a little pocket realm where everyone is facing each other, and there's perfect lighting conditions, no obstacles, no cover, and we just quote numbers till one side falls down. Dynamic combat and strategy are the name of the game, though, and everything should be organically connected.

While not a perfect combination by any stretch of the imagination, this spell and magic item have allowed my group to pull off some pretty wild achievements in our current campaign. As such, I figured I would talk about it, and perhaps inspire a few folks out there looking for a new trick to try out.


Carrying on the series focusing on the Corruption mechanics for the Pathfinder RPG, this time I talk all about the vampirism option... which is actually one of the more sustainable corruptions if you are willing to take prisoners, or you have extremely understanding party members.

The beat system for generating XP in the Chronicles of Darkness system is one of the aspects I've had the most problems with over the years. However, there's a sidebar in Deviant: The Renegades that fixes this system in a big way, and I'd highly recommend everyone put it to use at their own tables.

It's been a while since I've revisited my old character conversions series, and I still had a few notions from the grim darkness of the far future rolling around in my skull. As such, I thought I'd put together the third space marine character conversion, and get back on the use of those corruptions, as well!

Combat is one of those aspects of TTRPGs that can feel repetitive and samey, especially when you have to stop and take on every threat that comes your way, even if it isn't one that's really a danger to you. The Chronicles of Darkness offers an alternative that can keep the story moving, while not trivializing the danger such encounters could present... the optional rules for Down and Dirty Combat.

If you've ever wondered how you can become a serious threat to a supernatural creature, well, you don't need a silver bullet, a flamethrower, or an ancient rite... you just need a big damn truck! Vehicular combat in the Chronicles of Darkness is devastating, and it doesn't get nearly enough love.

I've been working on putting together a Changeling: The Lost LARP since before Covid hit, and now it's finally happening! For all the folks who are thinking about starting a NWoD LARP, though, might I recommend considering this alternative system for handling downtime actions? Particularly if you want players to have relatively fast advancement, or you are planning on running something for less than 5+ years, this may help balance power dynamics with not handing out mountains of XP.

There's such a long list of spells in Pathfinder that it's hard to keep track of them all. However, if you're going to put some heavy hitters into your roster, might I suggest considering wall spells? Because these things are often underestimated, and they can put serious power in your party's corner.

June 4, 2023 The Mounted Mage
We usually think of paladins, cavaliers, and fighters when we think of mounted characters... but if you're a spellcaster, you can get a lot of positive use out of making sure you're casting from the saddle!

Folks who haven't checked out my first full RPG yet, should check out this week's installment where I go into the changes I made to the 5E engine for Army Men: A Game of Tactical Plastic! So check it out, and if you think it sounds neat, consider backing the game today!

A lot of folks felt that once the hybrid classes came out that they rendered many of the core classes obsolete. I heard a lot of this talk about the skald, but before you decide the bard is too old-school to still be a contender at the table, consider some of the points made in this post.

There are a lot of players who won't touch prepared casters with a 10 foot pole when it comes to Pathfinder. But if you've been avoiding them because they seem like too much work, consider some of the benefits you get when you decide to play with these particular spell slingers (as well as some methods for minimizing their drawbacks).

Since a lot of folks are stepping away from Wizards of The Coast after the stunt they pulled, I figured I'd take a few installments of my Crunch section to review a couple of games I picked up during the ruckus in January. One of those is one you've probably heard of; the doom metal RPG Mörk Borg!

Of all the corruptions on the list, the Shadowbound is one of the odder choices. While not as versatile as many of the other options, it also has a more unusual trigger. However, if you want to try the corruption out for yourself, consider this list of classes that will pair nicely with what it offers.


The second of my astartes character conversions, the Night Lords were the legion who received the most requests out of any of the options. So whether you're looking to put together a renegade of your own, or you're looking for a villain for your next campaign, consider some of the options presented in this guide.

Corruptions were introduced in Horror Adventures, but they haven't been embraced as wholly as many other options in the Pathfinder RPG. However, in the first of what I hope to make a series, I wanted to talk about the Promethean corruption, and some classes you can pair with it in order to get the most you can out of this particularly dark set of powers.

It's been a hot minute since I made a new character conversion guide, and this is one more than a few folks were asking for. Maybe not the Iron Hands specifically, but if folks want to see more space marines, I'm happy to break out all the extra, added wooge I normally wouldn't recommend to help you really put the fear of the God Emperor into your enemies in your next PF game.

This is a trick I saw someone talking about on the Pathfinder Reddit, and it got me curious enough to start digging. As such, I thought I'd share it with folks to see what the community thought about using this unique trick for their charge-focused characters!

The narrative is so often that martial characters like fighters, barbarians, monks, etc., are powerful at lower levels, but that they will be outpaced by spellcasting characters. However, something we often forget is that while spellcasters might be an impressive hammer, martial characters are often the anvil... and push comes to shove, the anvil endures long past when the hammer has broken.

Illusions are one of the most-mocked kinds of spells in Pathfinder... but how many assumptions do we have that just aren't true? Because this particular school of magic is a lot more complicated than a lot of us really give it credit for.

Most of us will immediately reach for a monk or a brawler of some variety when we want to make an unarmed fighter. However, those aren't the only choices you have if you want to fight with your feet, fists, and forehead. While this list doesn't have everything in the game, it does have a lot of places you can start your own search!

While an often-overlooked mechanic, nonlethal damage is something that can actually be a great boon to your Pathfinder game... both as a Game Master, and as a player!

It's been a while since I've done a heavy crunch release, and this week I wanted to talk about the archetypes/subclasses available in my Sellswords of Sundara splatbook. Because I didn't want anyone to miss some of the fun, gonzo nonsense that I'm adding to my setting, but which could be equally useful in yours!

There's a tendency in RPGs to use the biggest, flashiest abilities we have to try to solve our issues. However, it's important to take a deep breath, and to ask if there aren't simpler, easier solutions to the problems the party faces.

The casters versus martials debate has been going on for years, and I doubt I'm going to be able to solve it in a single blog post. However, I think that clarity of language might actually help... and in this case, discussing the size of one's toolbox, and the reliability of the tools in it, is a far more useful conversation to have.

A request from several of my readers, I figured this week I'd blow the dust off my character conversions list and put together one more. For all the folks out there who've been waiting for a take on Mando, here's what I'd recommend!

Illusion spells are often ignored, and brushed aside by a lot of us because they just don't deal a lot of damage. However, illusions are far more than invisibility and distractions; used properly, they can alter the flow of a battle entirely.


I've been writing character conversions for several years now, and while their popularity waxes and wanes, I figured I'd take a moment to talk about the process I use, and how I break things down. Because I think that in order to really avoid arguments over interpretation, you need to be able to reduce the traits and necessary aspects of a character to a checklist that everyone can agree on.

Buff spells are one of those things we usually have a regular load out on, but sometimes we come across something new or unique that can make us re-think our strategy. This list has a few worth considering on it that I'd keep in mind to help get your party over the finish line!

Taking control of the battlefield is one of the biggest power moves you can pull as a spell caster. And if you're looking for solid, low-level spells that will keep being useful long into your campaign, these are some of the ones I've found that serve quite well.

"Exotic" weapons have been a thing for decades in gaming, but is it time to modify this particular aspect of the game as well? If it's begun to chafe at you and your players, I'd suggest giving the idea of Weapon Synergy a try instead!

For those who are looking for a broader, sweeping use of magic, battlefield control spells are one of the more difficult strategies to master. However, if you have someone with these spells on your side, they can turn the tide of battle with a word and a wave of their hand!

I've lost track of the number of players who set out to make what they think of as a "well-rounded" character... the problem is that, with the way the game scales, Pathfinder tends to punish players who spread their resources wider, but more challowly.

As you increase in level it is very likely that you're going to run into spellcasters as your bosses and mini bosses. While countering spells directly is tough, especially if you're not built for it, the damaging interrupt is something you can always pull off with a readied action, and a solid hit.

The 60th entry in my ongoing character conversions series, this is also the first article so far to be sponsored! So if you want to see what SMH Publishing, creators of the Savage Company campaign setting helped me bring to you, check out my take on the Catachan Jungle Fighters from Warhammer 40K!

The second character conversion guide I've written for a Warhammer 40K translation, the Death Korps of Krieg are known for their fearless, suicidal dedication to victory in battle. If you want to bring that to your game, this guide is a good place to get started!

Fear effects suck. So if you want to just hand wave them away, but you don't want to play a paladin, here are a couple of ways I've found that will allow you to keep adventuring without so much as slowing to roll a die.

For those who've been waiting on me to bring my character conversions guides project out of cold storage, I figured now was as good a time as any. If you want to be someone who can stiffen your allies' spines and put the fear of the God Emperor into your foes, this Warhammer 40K-inspired guide is a good place to get started.

I love Changeling: The Lost. It was the game I would not shut up about, and that I would drive several hours just to play. I was tentative about the second edition, and now that I've read it... well, I'm not mad. I'm just disappointed. 

If you've ever wondered why it's so damn hard to keep up with enemy attack bonuses in Pathfinder, well, it's because bigger threats will always hit unless you've sunk a majority of your resources into your AC. If you want more flexible protection, I'd recommend adding these selections to your repertoire.

While being a blaster is one of the hardest ways to get a return on your magic in Pathfinder, if you want to go that route there are a lot of specific issues that are going to be standing in your way. Here's my advice for how to best deal with them!

I've been playing Pathfinder for a while now, and there are certain challenges you're going to have to deal with in basically every adventure path you come across. And since forewarned is forearmed, I figured I'd talk about those this week.


I wanted to weigh-in on so-called "power discussions," and remind folks of something that seems to get forgotten a lot. Everything is potent in some circumstances, and useless in others. And the sheer variety of circumstances in the game means that there's too many variables to consider. As such, we need to be way more specific than "powerful" when discussing elements of the game.

We don't always think strategically when it comes to our games. Those who do may find the term force multiplication to be particularly useful for putting abilities, items, spells, and other resources into a proper frame of reference.
A lot of the time we get so long in all the bonuses we can stack and spells we can layer that we forget we don't usually have that sort of warning when we're in-game. Which is why it's important to ask how long it takes for you to rev your character up to the point where they're ready to rumble.
I've seen my share of tables absolutely lose their mind about how overpowered firearms are. My two cents, either these claims were made by people who haven't looked at the numbers, or by those making the argument in bad faith because they really objected to genre convention rather than mechanics.
Everything in a game has a weakness... it's just a matter of figuring out what it is, and targeting it. Here are some little pieces of strategy I'd recommend keeping in mind for my fellow players who find it frustrating when their main schtick runs into a wall.

If you're looking for a trick to fit up your sleeve, then you might want to consider a couple of these unusual magic tattoos. A lot of them are pricey, but they can in handy when the chips are down and you need a little bit of an edge.

July 18, 2020 Concealment is Worth Far More Than We Think (in Pathfinder)
Concealment is one of those rules that tends to get ignored a lot, because it just seems to be more trouble than it's worth. However, if you have the ability to generate it for yourself and your allies, you may find it saves your life more than once by the end of the campaign.

June 20, 2020 Strategic Use of "Summon Monster" in Pathfinder
Getting the most out of summoned allies can be tough. However, with a little strategy up your sleeve, you might be surprised at how much havoc you can wreak once initiative starts.

May 23, 2020 Vulgar Displays of Power: Tips For Getting The Most Out of Your Magic in Pathfinder
There is a lot of strategy when it comes to making sure you get the most bang for your buck as a spellcaster. This week I thought I'd offer some advice that's helped me as a player, and as someone who didn't start of the game as a magic user.

April 25, 2020 5 Low-Level Protection Spells That Never Stop Being Useful (in Pathfinder)
Protection spells are what can save your ass when it comes to a dungeon crawl or boss battle, but too often we focus on the big, shiny ones. If you're wondering what to put in your lower-level spell slots, this list has you covered.

March 28, 2020 3 Advantages of Wands in Pathfinder
Wands are one of the most common magic items in Pathfinder, but too often we let them fall by the wayside, or think of them just as ways to save on casting healing spells. They can be extremely useful things to keep on-hand, and with a party who are all capable of utilizing these items they can increase one's threat level substantially.

March 1, 2020 5 Low-Level Debuff Spells That Never Stop Being Useful (in Pathfinder)
For those who want to throw a spanner into the gears without spending their big, flashy powers to do it, I'd recommend keeping several of these spells on-hand the next time you bring a caster specialized in debuffing enemies.

February 1, 2020 5 Ways To Sidestep Hits in Pathfinder (Without Magic)
Some folks say that magic always wins when it comes to battles in Pathfinder... however, if you want to put a few tricks up your martial characters' sleeves, some of these tricks are going to come in handy for you.

January 4, 2020 5 Ways to Multiclass Barbarian and Monk in Pathfinder
One of the great thing about Pathfinder is that there is almost always a way to do what you want. And that's why this time around I thought I'd share some methods for how you can get around that alignment restriction that normally prevents you from building this kind of character.

January 1, 2020 Table Attorneys Vs. Rules Lawyers: How To Be Fair Without Bogging Down Your Game
The term "rules lawyer" gets thrown around pretty cavalierly these days. This is why I'd like to propose an alternative term for players who embrace both the spirit and the letter of the rules, and whose main interest is fairness; table attorneys. And if you're a DM, here's a simple structure for making sure all rules arguments can be made (and heard) in good faith.


December 7, 2019 Bucklers Are A Lot More Useful Than Most Folks Give Them Credit For (in Pathfinder)
If you've been wondering how to get just a little more oomph out of your armor class, you might want to take a glance at the oft-overlooked buckler. Because even if you think it's not allowed for your build, it might surprise you.

November 9, 2019 Increasing Your Movement Speed in Pathfinder (A Beginner's Guide)
Most of us never really consider our movement speed as a resource that can be tinkered with to gain a serious tactical advantage. But once you've turned the dial up to 11, it can be hard to come back down again.

October 12, 2019 The Armored Kineticist: A Force To Be Reckoned With
Casters and armor have had their difficulties seeing eye to eye over the years, but pouring a kineticist into a suit of full plate just might be one of the more fun things you've done in your life. If you get the chance, give it a try!

September 15, 2019 3 Bloodlines For Healing With Sorcerers
It sometimes seems like no one at the table wants to play a divine caster. If you still want to heal your party, but you'd rather be a sorcerer, here are a few things you might find of interest.

August 17, 2019 Chronicles of Darkness Second Edition... What's The Difference?
With my opinion on Pathfinder's Second Edition well established, I figured it was time to step away from that game and over to another I've been looking forward to. Because I found, to my surprise, I liked a lot of what I found in this newer version of the Chronicles of Darkness.

July 21, 2019 Air Support in Pathfinder: 4 Ways To Get Your Party Airborne ASAP
Flying is one of those skills that always crops up sooner or later in a game... but what if it was the party's turn to gain aerial superiority? If you want to bring a squadron of dangerous, aerial adventurers to your next campaign, here are some options to keep in mind.

June 22, 2019 Getting The Most Out of The Heal Skill (in Pathfinder)
The Heal skill is one that most people don't really bother with, but it can be useful. And if you have the skill unlock rules in play, it can get downright ridiculous!

May 24, 2019 Here's How To Turn Floating Disk Into a Battlefield Spell (in Pathfinder)
Floating disk is one of those utility spells most of us have never really found all that useful aside from a few niche circumstances. But with a feat or two, you can make it the centerpiece of your entire caster!

April 26, 2019 In Defense of The Humble Sling (in Pathfinder)
Slings are one of those weapons you use for a bit at lower levels, and then sort of forget about. But they can be pretty useful, if you're willing to fully commit to them.

March 20, 2019 5 House Rules I Wouldn't Recommend
We all have our own, unique ways of playing our games. These are the most common house rules I've seen, though, that just left me scratching my head wondering why anyone would do that.

March 2, 2019 The Advantages and Disadvantages of Psychic Magic (in Pathfinder)
Psychic magic has been out for a while, but I'm just now getting around to talking about it. So if you'd like to hear me do more on the occult classes, well, now's the time to make that opinion known!

February 1, 2019 Want To Do A Lot Of Damage? Stack Your Dice, Your Bonuses, or Both!
While different games have different rules, there are two general options for increasing your damage output in RPGs. You need to stack your bonuses to damage, or you need to be sure you're rolling a LOT of dice. Focusing on these things lets you cut through a lot of the noise, and get to the meat of which mechanics are going to help.

January 5, 2019 Vile Bile (Something For Green Dragonborn Assassins)
I don't usually make totally new material for games, but since I've had to brew up a solution to the vagaries of 5E and its poison crafting, I thought some folks might get a kick out of this one.


December 7, 2018 5 Handy Healing Items You Should Be Aware Of (In Pathfinder)
Keeping your hit points up is no picnic in Pathfinder, and that's why you should get your hands on every advantage you can find. Here are 5 magic items that might just do the trick for you.

November 12, 2018 Warrior Spirit, A Fun Trick For The Pathfinder Fighter's Advanced Weapon Training
If you're looking for an interesting spin on how to play the old-fashioned fighter, what if you could just make a spontaneous magic weapon a few times per day? Here's how Warrior Spirit can help you do that.

October 14, 2018 My Final Thoughts on The Pathfinder 2nd Edition Playtest
My group gave up halfway through the second module of this unfortunate Frankenstein. Here's my autopsy of what's wrong with it, what I think it was trying to solve, and why it fails.

September 15, 2018 5 Fun Multiclass Dips For 5th Edition
Multiclassing will get hate no matter what edition you're playing in, but don't listen to them. Here are five multiclass dips I've found that are fun, and useful if you're looking for a place to get started.

September 6, 2018 Tips For Building a Whip-Wielding Swashbuckler
Since my take on the magus was fairly popular, I thought I'd explore how best to add the whip to a swashbuckler. Here are my tips for folks who are looking for a dash of Zorro, and a pinch of Indiana Jones.

August 19, 2018 Fun With Sleight of Hand (in Pathfinder)
Sleight of Hand is one of those skills that it seems like no one ever takes. If you've been wondering when it would actually be helpful to have, well, here's a guide for you.

July 21, 2018 Where There's A Whip, There's A Way (Advice For Whip-Wielding Magi)
The humble whip is often overlooked as an exotic weapon. However, if you're a magus, it might be exactly the instrument you've been looking for.

June 23, 2018 Tips on Using Bluff and Diplomacy in Combat (in Pathfinder)
Social skills are often the first thing to go when initiative is rolled... but what if you want to use your Diplomacy or Bluff checks during combat? Well, here are some non-traditional ways you can make that happen.

May 26, 2018 Method in The Madness (A Structure For Wild Magic Surge Rolls in 5th Edition)
Wild magic was one of the first things Wizards dusted off and put into 5th edition, it feels like. However, when your class feature depends on DM discretion, it's often a good idea to sit down with your DM and talk about it. That way you're both on the same page.

April 28, 2018 5 Things I Like About Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition
I do play more than one game, and I've been in a 5th edition game for a couple of months now. So I thought I'd share my thoughts on what I like about the system, mechanically, for this month's update.

March 30, 2018 The Weird And Wild World of Outsiders (Exploring Alternative Aasimar and Tiefling Heritages)
We have aasimar and tieflings at most of our tables, but how often do they really break the mold and do something different? Especially when we have a slew of options for different powers we can slot into them in order to make the ideal heritage for our build?

March 3, 2018 Delivering A Big Bang With The Underground Chemist
If you've ever wanted to make alchemical items a viable strategy for someone other than an alchemist, don't fret! There's a handy combination using a rogue archetype that gives you plenty of bang for your buck.

February 3, 2018 How To Keep Up As A Gunslinger In Scion
Scion is a game where you play the children of gods, but those who rely on guns over traditional swords and fists may feel like they're being left out when it comes to damage. Trust me, if you do it right, you won't be.

January 7, 2018 Use Magic Device is a Great Skill, and Pathfinder Players Should Invest In It
I came across a discussion the other day where a bunch of players were asking if Use Magic Device had any purpose, or if it was just something they could ignore. Here is my answer to that particular line of questioning.


December 8, 2017 3 Tips For Boosting Your Caster Level in Pathfinder
Your caster level is where most of your mystical muscle comes from as a spellcaster. So why not max it out, and hit as hard as you possibly can?

November 13, 2017 Think A Fighter's Bravery is Useless? Well, Think Again...
Bravery is one of those class features most of us ignore, or consider subpar. However, with a little tweaking, Bravery can be a much bigger deal than you think.

October 15, 2017 When It Comes To The Rules, Turnabout Is Fair Play (With Some Caveats)
If the players can do it, so can the DM. However, if your a DM considering this strategy, here is some advice I would really suggest you follow.

September 17, 2017 Use Tactics, Not Raw Numbers, To Challenge Your Players
Have you ever pulled your hair out because your players are smashing every encounter you put before them? Well, that's because it's time for you to start fighting smarter, not harder. Take a seat, and listen to the tale of Tucker's Kobolds, and the lessons it teaches.

August 20, 2017 4 Tips For Using Poison in Pathfinder
If you're thinking about using poison as a PC, there are some obstacles standing in your way. Here are some tips for getting around them, and giving the DM a taste of his own medicine.

July 21, 2017 "Drawbacks" on Magic Items Can Force Players To Make Tough Decisions
Cursed items in Pathfinder are often thought of as the ultimate dick move by storytellers. However, there are little curses, as well as big ones. Would you wield a greatsword that bellowed in battle as long as it gave you a +3 bonus? Or a shield that cried when it was struck as long as it had fortification on it?

June 24, 2017 Don't NERF Skills in Pathfinder (Instead, Try Using The Rest of The Rules)
One of the most common complaints I see from Pathfinder DMs is players always beating skill checks with ease. They want to add in more challenge, but they don't appear to realize the mechanic for doing that is already in the book!

May 26, 2017 How To Get The Most Out Of The Surprise Round (In Pathfinder)
The surprise round is rarely your friend in Pathfinder. In fact, most of the time it means the enemies are getting a free hit on you before the first round of regular combat starts. But there is a way you can take it back, and this week Improved Initiative has the trick for you.

April 29, 2017 Can't Get Enough Traits in Pathfinder? Try Taking a Drawback!
Traits are, essentially, half of a feat. You start play with two of them, and they're meant to give you little, mechanical bonuses to round out your character. But what if you really need just one more? Well, you can get three... if you're willing to take a drawback.

March 31, 2017 Get ALL The Skill Points in Pathfinder With This Handy Trick
There are never enough skill points to go round, especially if your PC takes levels in a class that only gets 2 + Intelligence modifier. This handy trick can help you get a few more points, though, and a lot more points under the right circumstances.

March 3, 2017 Add Some Spell-Like Abilities To Your Character For An Ace-In-The-Hole (In Pathfinder)
Have you ever wished you could just keep that one spell up your sleeve for when you really needed it? Well, you may be in luck. This week we're talking about spell-like abilities, and where you can acquire them.

January 27, 2017 Understanding Action Economy (And Why You Need It)
Action economy is one of those words that seems like made-up jargon for RPGs, but it is actually an important concept for players to understand. Especially if they want to maximize their potential on any given round.


December 30, 2016 Gross! Combine The Tumor Familiar With A Familiar Archetype For Disgusting Results
The familiar archetypes gave us a lot of useful new toys to play with... but it's alchemists who can really bring the pain. All they need is a tumor familiar, vat grown for a very particular purpose.

December 2, 2016 Give Your Cleric A Healing Familiar (in Pathfinder)
We've all dealt with that frustration. A party member rushes into combat, or goes down, and the cleric just can't get there in time to help. Or, worse, the cleric could get there, but doing so would put him in serious jeopardy. Wouldn't it be great if you could just send your familiar out to deliver your spells? Well, here's how you can!

November 3, 2016 How to Finesse a Katana in The Pathfinder RPG
The katana is a popular weapon on Pathfinder, and not just among those who love Eastern-style weapons. Deadly, and with a high-crit range, the katana is a great way to leave your opponents in pieces. If you want to use your Dexterity modifier with this weapon, instead of your Strength modifier, though, this guide will show you how.

October 30, 2016 5 Barbarian Multiclass Characters Your Table Won't See Coming
I did it with paladins, so I thought it was only fair to do it again with barbarians. Since these raging warriors are perhaps the second most pigeonholed base class in terms of roleplay, and expectations.

October 8, 2016 Corruptions (And Power) in Horror Adventures
Horror Adventures has been making waves ever since it's release. Now that the Halloween season is here, I delve into the stand-out new mechanic the book introduces; corruptions. A powerful, double-edged sword that can hurt characters just as much as they can help, corruptions add an intriguing new aspect to Pathfinder.

September 19, 2016 5 Paladin Multiclass Combinations Your Table Won't Expect
Multiclassing isn't something every player does, but if you're looking for a way to play some truly unique paladins, then these 5 character class combinations might be just what you're looking for.

September 10, 2016 Horror Adventures Settles The Argument About Evil Spells and Alignment
There's been this odd argument over the years that evil spells are not, inherently, evil. That it's the use they're put to which should be judged. Horror Adventures has finally filled in the gray area, and made it abundantly clear what happens to the alignment of those who dabble in evil magic.

August 12, 2016 You Cannot Contain Power Players (So Trying Working With Them, Instead)
Power players are the ones who've done their homework. They know which abilities fit together in order to let their characters achieve certain goals, and fulfill certain roles. They get a lot of hate, often because they can be seen as disruptive, and prone to grandstanding, but if you work with them, instead of trying to paint them into a corner, they can be phenomenal tools for you, and your game.

July 8, 2016 Bored Playing Regular Humans? Try Racial Heritage on For Size
Racial Heritage is a feat you either use all the time, or you've never heard of. If you fall into the latter category, well, then this post is for you. Here are some of the great reasons you should examine, and possibly use, this feat in your future concepts.

June 11, 2016 In Praise of Mage Armor
Mage Armor is one of those 1st level spells that you love for a little while, and eventually set aside because you've gotten your hands on better toys. But it's still perfectly functional, and it is great for all kinds of characters; especially ones who aren't spellcasters.

May 14, 2016 5 Ways to Make Up For Small-Sized Damage in Pathfinder
If you're running a small-sized character, you might feel frustrated that every time you hit it feels like you're stabbing your foes with a butter knife. So, instead of banging your head against the wall, check out these 5 methods for overcoming your small-sized handicap when it comes to bringing the pain.

April 16, 2016 For a Change of Pace, Give Your Pathfinder PCs Some Monster Feats
Monster feats are one of those toys the DM typically keeps all to himself. However, if your PC qualifies, then you can take monster feats too. The prerequisites are stiff, but often totally worth the effort.

March 18, 2016 Natural Attacks Can Turn Your Pathfinder Character Into a Monster
If you've ever fought a monster with a lot of natural attacks, you were probably jealous that the DM was having all the fun. Fear not, for you have access to these toys as well!

February 21, 2016 The 4 Major Flaws of Character Building
We've all seen those impossibly powerful character builds. Before you get too intimidated, though, check them against these four flaws. You'll find that, many times, they aren't all they're cracked up to be.

January 17, 2016 Marry Your Rules and Story in Pathfinder With Achievement and Story Feats
Achievement feats and story feats aren't a mechanic that lots of players are familiar with. So this week I talk about what makes them cool, and why you should take a look at them.


December 18, 2015 Replacing Lost Limbs With Magical Prosthetics in Pathfinder
For players who aren't shy about PC mutilation, lost limbs can become commonplace. If you lose a hand, or a leg, or an entire arm, what are you going to do when it's time to go back out and adventure? Try one of these solutions on for size, is my recommendation.

November 21, 2015 5 More Rules Pathfinder Players Keep Forgetting
Here's another entry in the long-running series of rules that get forgotten, overlooked, or just plain mis-remembered. How many of these did you actually know?

October 16, 2015 How to Weaponize Your Intimidate Check in Pathfinder
Intimidate is the social skill that most players invest in, but it's one that has a limited use in combat. Limited, that is, unless you combine it with a certain set of feats I call The Bruiser.

September 18, 2015 4 Ways to Reduce The Amount of Sleep Your Pathfinder Characters Need
There ain't no rest for the wicked, and this short list of 4 method will help make sure your PCs spend as little time with their eyes closed as possible. No more than a few hours a night, in fact!

August 22, 2015 4 Common DM Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)
Being a DM isn't easy. With that said, here are four issues you're likely going to run into behind the screen, along with some basic strategies for avoiding them.

July 31, 2015 The Ecclesitheurge: Part One of a Powerful Mystic Theurge Build
The Advanced Class Guide is full of powerful hybrid classes, but one of the overlooked cleric archetypes just might be a way to supercharge your Mystic Theurge concept.

July 11, 2015 How To (Usually) Go First During The Surprise Round
If you've always wanted to go during the surprise round, but you don't want to play a character class like the Kensai who gets that ability as a class feature, you just need to take a very specific feat. Here's where you can find it.

June 21, 2015 How To Power Up Your Pathfinder Character With The Eldritch Heritage Feats
Eldritch heritage is a feat tree that doesn't get nearly enough love. Here are some of the reasons why. Try it out for yourself and see if it gives you that extra oomph you want in your PCs.

May 30, 2015 How to Create a Character Conversion in 4 Simple Steps!
Character conversions are one of the most common topics of discussion in RPGs. Whether it's Batman or Sparticus, how do you put them in your game? Well, this how-to guide should give you some solid advice for doing just that.

May 9, 2015 How to Shut Down Spellcasters in Pathfinder
Magic users are one of the biggest threats you can go toe-to-toe with in Pathfinder. If you want to come out ahead when you scrap with a sorcerer or battle with a bard, here are some tips that can really help you get ahead.

April 17, 2015 Some of The Best House Rules in Pathfinder
While we all have the same rule books, every DM likes to tweak the game a little to fit his or her style. House rules are extremely common, but there are some of the best ones I've run into in my gaming career.

March 28, 2015 Should You Use A DM Screen?
The DM screen is seen by many as an unnecessary barrier that gives the DM too much power. What's going on back there, after all? If you're willing to use it though, the screen can transform your game with nothing more than some simple sleight of hand.

March 7, 2015 How To Make Your Attacks of Opportunity More Effective (In Pathfinder)
Attacks of opportunity are a rule that never really comes into play in Pathfinder. Every now and again you get to hit an unwary spellcaster, or smash a bottle out of someone's hand, but they're rare and not typically what decides a combat. Unless, that is, you decide to force the opportunity for your attacks.

February 7, 2015 Some of the Best De-Buff Spells in Pathfinder
Taking away your enemy's advantages through penalties and status conditions, commonly referred to as de-buffing, can be a horrendously effective strategy. Here are some spells every de-buffer should have ready to hand when the big bad comes charging up.

January 16, 2015 Still More Rules Pathfinder Players Keep Forgetting
The fourth installment in a series where Improved Initiative points out obscure or often mis-remembered rules for your benefit. Whether you are the player or the DM though, well, that's up to you.


December 26, 2014 A Pathfinder Build For A Dirty Trick Master
The dirty trick combat maneuver is something that almost no players use, despite the fact that it's a debuff with no save. For those who like the idea of making their enemies fight at a severe disadvantage, this build has some suggestions that you can take right to heart.

December 5, 2014 A Review of The Laying Waste Critical Hit System From TPK Games
Everyone loves critical hits, but what if they were even deadlier than they are now? TPK Games gives you a book that makes that dream a reality... just be careful it doesn't become a nightmare.

November 19, 2014 Even MORE Rules Pathfinder Players Keep Forgetting
The third installment in the series of obscure or often-overlooked rules, these 6 additions to your Pathfinder knowledge could make a big difference in your game.

October 30, 2014 The Best Drugs In Pathfinder
While we were all told not to do drugs, sometimes a little chemical enhancement is just what you need in Pathfinder. This list of drugs has a lot of potential, and they might be just what you need when it comes time to take on the big boss.

October 15, 2014 How to Increase Spell DCs in Pathfinder
Spellcasting in Pathfinder is robust and powerful, but every little bit helps. For those who don't want their enemies to make their saves, here are some prime ways to raise the bar.

October 2, 2014 How To Build An Effective RPG Character Every, Single Time
Building an effective character looks easy; it isn't. This list of questions from Improved Initiative will help you make sure that your next character is the best there is at what he or she does, though.

September 9, 2014 MORE Rules Pathfinder Players Keep Forgetting
The first list was so popular I decided to take some of the suggestions and put together a second list. For Pathfinder players who don't want to overlook potentially hazardous rules, here's 6 more that you might want to keep in mind.

August 12, 2014 The Best (Non-Magical) Equipment For Your Pathfinder Party
While there's no denying the puissance of a Holy Avenger or the power of a Rod of Wonder, often the day-to-day activities of an adventurer require more humble items. This list has some of the most often overlooked items that players should really bring with them into the dangerous dungeons and hazardous hellmouths of Golarion.

August 5, 2014 The Best Alchemical Items For Your Pathfinder Party
Alchemical items are typically discarded by level 5 or so, but that might be a mistake for parties that want to keep a monkey wrench up their sleeves. Here's a list of some of the best alchemical items your party can bring to any adventure.

July 23, 2014 Aid Another in Pathfinder is More Useful Than You Think
A semi-constant complaint about the Aid Another action is that it just doesn't give a good bonus. Those making this complaint now have a step by step guide to prove that they're simply not being creative enough.

June 24, 2014 Playing By The Book: Some Pathfinder Rules Players Keep Forgetting
There are a lot of rules in Pathfinder... a lot. Here are a selection of five rules that people just keep forgetting, misquoting, or otherwise insist work differently than they do.

May 15, 2014 Look Upon Me and Despair: The Most Striking Changeling Build
Taking a break from Pathfinder, we explore how to build a social sledgehammer in changeling. For those who like to use the Striking Looks merit, this build has it in spades.

April 18, 2014 A Spider-Man Pathfinder Build
In honor of the second Amazing Spider-Man movie, Improved Initiative has brought you a great meta-human build. Have fun, and remember to make it your own!

March 11, 2014 How to Get a High Armor Class in Pathfinder
While it's one of the most important stats on a character's sheet, there are some players who never take the time to increase their armor class. Here's a basic list of some of the easiest ways to make sure your character is as hard to hit as possible.

February 14, 2014 Seen and Not Heard: Tips and Tricks For Stealth-Based Characters
Every Pathfinder party has that one, irritatingly stealthy character. Have you ever wanted to be that guy or gal? Well, here's a handy list of stuff you're going to need to pull it off.

January 18, 2014 The Best Roleplaying Games (You've Probably Never Heard Of)
Games like Pathfinder, Dungeons and Dragons, and the World of Darkness are big enough that they dominate gaming store shelves, and are even sold in standard bookstores. For those seeking a bit of variety in their gaming though, here are some new favorites you probably didn't know existed.


December 20, 2013 How to Top The Initiative Order (Almost) Every Time
We were going to get around to this eventually. Improved Initiative now presents every tip, trick, gadget, feat, and spell for helping you go before the bad guys do.

November 24, 2013 One Hit Wonders: Building a Bigger, Badder Brute
Ever wanted to play that fighter or barbarian that drops an enemy on practically every turn? Here are some tips on making great weapon wielders who carve a path through the bad guys.

October 25, 2013 The Bullyboy
Have you ever wanted to use the Intimidate skill effectively in combat? Effectively enough to render enemies frightened, as well as flat-footed? Then the tips and tricks you need to build a proper bullyboy might be just what you need.

October 6, 2013 The Best Two Weapon Fighter Build
When it comes to the optimal two weapon fighter build for protecting the fighter while still getting the maximum number of attacks, there are some necessary feats said character has to have. Here's the break down.

October 2, 2013 The Avengers
An experiment where I list builds and suggestions for all of Marvel's Avengers. The Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, Black Widow, and even Loki are found here.

February 21, 2013 Calling in the Cavalry: Mounted Mayhem in Paizo's Pathfinder
Mounted combat is a thing that lots of players simply do not get involved with. It's cumbersome, and it takes a lot of feats and skills to pull off. When done properly though, the results are devastating.


December 6, 2012 Laying on Fists: Feats and Features for Clerics and Paladins
Paladins and clerics are the classes the party looks to when battling real, out-of-the-pit evil. Will you be ready when it comes for you? Here's some suggestions.

September 7, 2012 More Bang For Your Bomb: Making a Walking Conflagration
Alchemists are one of the most versatile classes in all of Pathfinder. While they might lack the sheer, destructive capability of an evoker, they can hold their own if built to go boom.

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